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“She's holding the door shut,” Samantha said.

“But she's asleep,” Sergio added.

“Amaliya, it's Grandmama,” Innocente said again. “Wake up, Amaliya. Let us get you out. ”

“Go get the stuff from the vehicle and be careful,” Jeff said to Samantha. “We need to get out of here right away. ”

Samantha nodded and lifted her bat again. “I'm on it. ”

“Coming with you. ” Sergio followed her out into the hallway.

“I just want to get the hell out of here,” Samantha said to him as they moved quickly to the front door. “Before anything else crazy happens. ”

“I'm so with you on that,” Sergio answered.

Samantha heaved the door open and stared into the gnarled, decayed, dried husks of the dead people standing on the porch. She had only a second to realize that the corpses were all around the house and truck before the one nearest her lifted its masticated arm.

“Sergio,” Samantha screamed.

Then the thing stabbed her through and she fell back into Sergio's arms.

***

In his darkened room, The Summoner smiled as his eyes glowed with white light.

“Don't kill them,” he whispered softly. “Wound them, keep them in the house, but do not kill them. Save them for me. ”

How nice of Amaliya and Cian to take refuge in the farmhouse that sat on the edge of the old cemetery. So convenient for him to call on the dead once his four more robust minions were downed. And how lovely of Amaliya's grandmother and cousin to come and provide ample fodder for him to use against her.

His smile broadened.

The situation was increasingly to his liking.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Sergio looked out the window and sighed. “They're not moving. ”

Jeff looked up from where he sat on the floor cradling Samantha in his arms. He had used his jacket to staunch the blood flow from her wound and now it was being used as a makeshift bandage. He could see the pain etched in her face and she looked very pale. As soon as she had been stabbed through a sword, Sergio had yanked her back into the house and slammed the door shut.

The dead remained outside in terrible silence. They were just standing there, emaciated, gnarled dead things, waiting for the night to come. The Summoner's power infused them with unnatural resilience and the four times the mortals had tried to shove through them to the truck, the living had been pushed back by the dead. The four humans all bore wounds now. They were bloodied, dirty, and trapped.

No matter how many of the dead they hacked apart, The Summoner's minions kept coming in a great wall of dead, dry flesh. The Summoner's own black magic infused the corpses and it was his will that had the dead pushing the living back into the house. The four humans had all felt the dark power within their opponents.

The Summoner wanted them here.

He wanted them trapped.

“It's like night of the fucking living dead,” Sergio said grumpily.

His grandmother was in the other room, sitting next to the closet door, talking to Amaliya, trying to reach her through the vampire sleep.

“At least they are not trying to get in and eat us,” Samantha said in a raspy voice.

“No,

they just stab us with swords from the freakin' Civil War,” Sergio responded with frustration.

They were all hungry, they were tired, and they were scared. Jeff couldn't hold Sergio's moodiness against him.

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